Games based on movie franchises tend not to be great and The Amazing Spider-Man, despite its high aspirations, is no exception. The fun from swinging around New York and catching enemies in your web is diminished by sloppy controls and lacklustre gameplay. It really depends on what you want from a third-person superhero open-world action game. If it’s tight controls and great graphics, then look elsewhere. If it’s simple fun and entertainment on the go, this could be the game for you.
The story occurs six months after the events of the rebooted movie so if you haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man then you might have some trouble understanding what’s going on at the start, though with the delayed release of this port most people will have seen and forgotten the film by now. However, if you’re a comic book or Spider-Man fan you will roll with it and accept that the events are the result of experiments gone wrong and the only person who can save the day is the web-slinger himself.
After an extremely lengthy cut-scene where Peter Parker witnesses an incident at Oscorp, the city is in peril with an outbreak of Dr Connors’ cross-species virus infecting citizens, including Gwen Stacy. As Parker is immune to the virus (being a mutant himself), it’s left to him and Dr Connors to find a cure and save the people of New York.
There is definitely a sense of satisfaction to be found swinging around the city and it’s a shame the same can’t be said of the combat, which is fiddly and wayward at times. When it works, it’s a joy but it’s all a bit hit and miss (literally). There’s a nagging feeling that the full potential of the Vita hasn’t been utilised and that the chosen mechanics haven’t translated as well from the console.
I should mention that the gameplay style is somewhat reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham games and it’s hard not to compare the two. While Batman feels polished and flawless, Spider-Man struggles with his newfound abilities and never really gets into the swing of things (sorry, I just had to).
Features such as Web-rush mode, where enemies and useful objects are highlighted, and areas where the spandex-clad hero can swing to, are great in theory but prove to be more difficult in execution than Rocksteady would have you believe. Being able to locate a destination is helpful when it is not clear where you are supposed to go, which happens fairly often, but fixing on the right spot is tricky and will result in more than a few curses when you swing inadvertently into an enemy instead of into an air vent.
The ability to attack enemies using the web is one of the better aspects of the game and most fights could be won without Spidey’s feet ever touching the ground. His defence is virtually nil so getting shot a few times means you will die, understandable as Spider-Man’s strengths lie in his agility and stealth and not his bulletproof armour. It means you have to plan your attacks carefully and there are many rooms where enemies need to be taken out one by one. This becomes easier as the game progresses and you unlock upgrades. My favourite was undoubtedly the ability to string your enemies to the ceiling and leave them hanging in a webbed cocoon. I left many rooms with white blobs covering the ceilings like Shelob’s Christmas decorations.
It’s not a great looking game and more attention has been paid to making Spider-Man look presentable than any of the other characters. It’s a relief then that the voice acting is exemplary, really helping to bring the story to life, as glitching faces and blurry buildings could quickly pull you out of the moment.
Spider-Man’s mobile device can pick up emails and messages from key characters as well as locate crimes in progress. The open-world aspect translates well to the Vita and Spidey can make detours on his way to his next story mission to stop crimes, mutants and pick up escaped mental patients. However, like the main story missions, these get repetitive after a while.
There are plenty of extras though to keep you amused though, including 700 comic book pages to collect and there will be those who spend a good portion of the ten hour playing time trying to get them all. True to form, Stan Lee has a cameo; honestly, I’d be disappointed if he didn’t. There is a lot more going on beneath the surface of The Amazing Spiderman than first meets the eye and it’s these little nods and attention to detail that save the game from failure.
Loading times are long. Very long. However the developers have cleverly put in a social media newsfeed where you can read the reactions of the city’s residents to Spider-Man’s antics. Some of these are amusing and definitely prevent you from being frustrated at the loading times and slipping out of the story. Just like Spider-Man, the game never takes itself too seriously and the web-slinger’s quips and musings are entertaining enough to keep things going.
For a game based on a movie franchise, it’s not as bad as other offerings but the Vita’s true potential hasn’t been realised and it feels rushed despite the delay in its release. Comic/Spiderman fans will find some enjoyment but there are better open-world action games for those who are hankering after that kind of thing, Gravity Rush being the most notable. Despite this I still had fun with The Amazing Spider-Man and that’s really what it’s all about.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation Vita Release Date: 19/11/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of five days on a PlayStation Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.